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Posts Tagged ‘Public Services’

NHS Care.data: What should we do together?

February 17th, 2014 by

In just two weeks, the personal medical records of everyone in England will start being sent to a central database – Care.data – to be used by the NHS to improve its services. If it’s done right, Care.data could be used to make our NHS even better.

But there’s a catch: private companies will be able to buy access to our data too – private companies like Serco or big pharmaceutical companies who would love to see our NHS privatised and run entirely for profit.

It’s been all over the papers and causing huge concern. Hundreds of 38 Degrees members have suggested that we work together to fix the plans. But so far the organisation running Care.data – NHS England – is pushing ahead despite public opposition. Maybe they’re hoping to weather the storm.

We can turn up the pressure and force them to listen. We all have the right to opt out of the scheme. If we organise hundreds of thousands of us to opt out, we’ll show NHS England they need to change the rules and stop private companies having access to our data.

We can make it happen. But we don’t have much time. Care.data is due to launch at the beginning of March. This week the office team has been putting in place a system that could allow us to launch a huge mass opt-out. Opting out will only up the pressure if enough of us are behind it. So will you answer this simple question now: do you think we should organise a mass opt-out from Care.data to put pressure on NHS England to fix the scheme?

Despite few people understanding the plans – we’ve all been automatically opted in to the scheme. Lots of 38 Degrees members have been in touch with concerns about what will happen to our medical records once they’re on Care.data.

NHS England, the organisation that oversees the NHS in England, insists our records will be anonymised and secure. But many GPs are withholding their own records because of concerns about how they could be used.

38 Degrees members have been speaking out against Care.data in droves:

“I work in the NHS and have opted out. I don’t want anyone else to see my confidential data.” – Sarah

“I am happy for my anonymised data to be used for the benefit of improving healthcare in our population. Problem is, I do not believe the current security measures are sufficient to protect my personal data.” – Alan

“While I can see the benefits of sharing data between hospitals and GPs. I don’t think it is appropriate or ethical to sell confidential information to third parties. That is despicable” – Sandra

Opting out now doesn’t mean you have to stay opted-out. Once the scheme is fixed anyone can contact their GP again and opt back in.

So, what do you think? Should we stage a mass opt-out from Care.data?

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We refuse to lose our loos

August 13th, 2013 by

‘We Refuse to Lose Our Loos’ read Lin Patterson’s banner last Friday in Bath as she and other 38 Degrees members handed in her petition to save the city’s public toilets. Loads of supporters showed up on the day, and with Lin’s petition of over 2,300 signatures, we now have a real chance to overturn the council’s decision to close down public toilets in Bath. 

Recently Lin spent 72 hours locked in a cubicle that was due to be shut down by Bath council and has been actively seeking support to overturn the council’s decision to close down many of the city’s public toilets. Millions of people in the UK suffer with urinary problems, and a lot of older people feel trapped inside their homes as a result. Closing down the public loos would aggravate the problem.

After starting a campaign on Campaigns by You, the number of signatures on her petition rocketed and she used this to attracted a lot of public and media attention. With banners in the air reading slogans such as, ‘You’re Taking the P’, and ‘Hands off our Loos’, it is not surprising that she and other 38 Degrees members caught the public’s eye!

Now it is up to the council to debate the issue, and for us to get ready to ramp up the pressure on the council to keep our public toilets in Bath open. You can sign Lin’s petition here.

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Citizen Journalism – take part in the fight!

August 6th, 2013 by

Hello,

My name is Guddi and I am a Paediatric doctor working with 38 Degrees to help protect our NHS.

The Health and Social Care Act came into force on April 1st 2013 – despite the lack of any democratic mandate, massive public opposition and dissent from virtually every medical professional body. A joke on us all, we were betrayed. Our government saw fit to put our health up for sale, and far from speaking up for it, the media has been either inaudible or misrepresentative about the NHS.

Reclaiming Our NHS – Dispatches from the Frontline” is an initiative between openDemocracy’s ourNHS and 38 Degrees to provide a public platform and whistleblowing service for ordinary people to speak up about the healthcare reforms as they see them. We hope this space will make it clear that the public will not stand meekly by while the NHS is being dismantled – we will not be silent. Moreover, as a collation of experiences from around the country, it can be used to hold our politicians accountable for their actions. We also hope that it can act as a resource for campaigners to make contact and organize together.

Because that is what “Reclaiming Our NHS” is all about. It’s your stories, your experiences and it’s your words. It doesn’t have to give you a voice, because you already have one. It’s just going to help it get heard. This is news of the people, by the people, for the people – citizen journalism in its truest sense.

Whether you are a seasoned activist, patient, healthcare employee or simply someone who cares, we want to hear from you.

To see what other 38 Degrees members have been up to, go to ourNHS.

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Fire service: under threat

February 22nd, 2013 by

Revealed: it looks like the government is planning to privatise our fire service. It’s trying to sneak in new laws that “would enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider”.

Every day, fire crews put their lives in danger to keep us safe. Within minutes of an emergency, we can expect fire engines to be there to save lives and protect our property. Privatising these vital services might seem crazy. But that’s exactly what the government is trying to slip through a hush-hush parliamentary committee.

Let’s make sure the government knows we’re watching. We’ve seen bad ideas get much too far before. We need to move fast to show the government that we want a fire service whose priority is protecting people’s lives, not making profit. Together we can prove how unpopular privatising the fire service would be with the public. Sign the petition here.

Our fire service is a precious emergency service that we all depend on for our lives and our safety. Between 2011 and 2012, English firefighters attended 606,000 incidents. If the government is allowed to sell the fire service off to private companies, then the essence of our fire service, a service for all of us whenever we need it, might be lost forever.

Private companies have been circling the fire service for years. They recognise that money can be made and they want to piggyback off a service the public holds dear.

The government can’t afford another big battle over privatisation. It’ll know that 38 Degrees members were responsible for stopping the sell-off of our forests and making sure the NHS changes were as controversial as possible. 

So let’s make sure they know they’re up against us again. Sign the petition to stop privatisation of our fire service now.

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NHS: options for next steps

April 17th, 2012 by

Introduction

Following the passing of the Health and Social Care Act last month, 38 Degrees members voted overwhelmingly to carry on campaigning to protect our NHS. This post sets out some specific options for what we could do next.

The options proposed here are based on over 50,000 suggestions made by 38 Degrees members, which the office team have read through and collated. They are also informed by suggestions made by a range of experts, from health academics, to people working in the NHS, and lawyers.

It’s 38 Degrees members who will take the actions and chip in to make these options work, so it’s crucial that 38 Degrees members vote together to decide what we do. In the next week we’ll all have the chance to vote on which tactics we most want to take forward.

The purpose of this blog post is to set out a draft list of the options, before they are finalised and put to the vote – to give 38 Degrees members and experts the chance to help refine them before voting starts.

Please post your comments below this blog.

Top-level assumptions

First, here are some top-level assumptions that have been made in proposing this list of options:

- The Health and Social Care Act has set in place a framework that pushes the NHS towards fragmentation and privatisation. But with the right campaigning, we could slow the pace of these changes or even change their direction.

- Now that the Act has been passed, much of the focus will need to be local. We’ll need to focus on local decision-makers who are now tasked with implementing the new NHS structure, and use local issues to create national pressure.

- The next general election will be a major milestone. It’s too early to say what we’ll need to do then, but the commitments of candidates standing for election, and of course who wins, could have a big influence on the future of the NHS. If we can influence implementation of the changes now and keep the NHS on the agenda, we can lay the foundations for it being a big issue come election time.

- 38 Degrees can’t save the NHS on its own! We need to work alongside a whole range of other organisations working on the NHS, and we’ll rely on advice and intelligence from a range of experts. We should continue to play a role in bringing different groups together and encouraging networking, and we’ll need to explore ways in which we could help this happen more effectively – including devoting more 38 Degrees staff time to coordination and networking.

List of options

Below is the draft list of possible tactics:

Options with a local focus

1.Campaign to push local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to adopt pro-NHS policies

CCGs are the important new bodies led by GPs who have now been given responsibility for spending huge amounts of NHS money, and will be taking important decisions about the future of our healthcare. Together we could pressure them to steer clear of privatisation and safeguard the NHS:

- Produce template policies, checked by lawyers, which could be adopted by CCGs to make NHS and not-for-profit providers their preferred options for all contracts

- Organised local campaigns to encourage CCGs to do the right thing – with leafleting, petitions, local events etc

- Provide networking and support to pro-NHS CCGs if they come under pressure from the government or private companies

2. Campaign against local market failures, cuts and privatisation caused by the Health and Social Care Act

If and when things start to go wrong in a local area, we could help sound the alarm and call for a change of approach to solve the problems. We could:

- Host and promote local petitions, demonstrations, and e-mail actions against local problems

- Provide resources and networking to local campaigners and 38 Degrees members engaged in these campaigns

- Bring local problems to national attention, and put pressure on the government to fix them

3. Develop local networks of concerned citizens who can act as a people powered NHS watchdog

By joining and working with existing local mechanisms, we can influence how healthcare is handled. Some ways would be to:

- Support 38 Degrees members to join local HealthWatch boards, local Health and Wellbeing Boards, Foundation Trust boards and GP Patient Participation Groups

- Provide training and support to members of local health groups, such as training events, monthly phone conference calls with experts, online briefings

- Offer support for people when they expose dodgy practices and whistleblow

- Look out for key moments and organise local campaigns to ensure decisions about the NHS go in the right direction, for example, decisions about whether or not to lift the limits on how much private work can be done by an NHS hospital

Options with a national focus

4. Build a national picture of market failures, cuts and privatisation

If we draw together local information, this could become a powerful national campaigning tool and keep the spotlight on the national impact of the NHS changes. Together we could:

- Organise an online database to map and aggregate problems within the NHS

- Offer a package of support to prospective whistleblowers exposing local problems

- Pay for investigators to look into Freedom of Information requests, undercover investigations and media monitoring

- Train 38 Degrees members to conduct local investigative and watchdog work and feed this back so it can be aggregated nationally

5. Act as a deterrent to private companies encroaching on the NHS

Private healthcare companies will tempted to aggressively pursue NHS contracts, e.g. by wining, dining and hosting events for CCGs or by using expensive lawyers to demand they are awarded contracts. To protect the role of our NHS, we could:

- Lift the lid on health corporation sponsorship of NHS events/conferences or public events like the London marathon

- Organise protests and stunts at shareholder events and outside offices of senior staff

- Support NHS bodies if private companies attack them e.g. by using competition law

- Use undercover investigation or Yes Men style stunts to expose dodgy dealings and conflicts of interest


6. Make the NHS an issue in elections from by-elections to city mayoral elections

Politicians need to take a stand and pledge a better future for our NHS. To make this happen, we could:

- Challenge local candidates to say what they will do to protect the NHS

- Name and shame candidates who broken election promises on healthcare

- Support pro-NHS candidates in elections

7. Support laid off NHS staff to set up alternatives to expensive management consultancies and multinational corporations

Big private companies don’t have to be the only solution as NHS services are broken up and NHS staff are laid off. We could tried to help the people being forced out of the NHS to setup alternatives to private sector involvement. To do this we could:

- Support staff being laid off to set up their own co-ops or mutual service providers as an alternative to multinationals

- Put pressure on CC keys to consider not-for-profit alternatives to management consultants and multinational corporations

Top line questions and next steps

This blog post aims to set out the list of options for comment before 38 Degrees members vote on the final list of options in a few days time. The more comments and suggestions we get at this draft stage the better – so the poll and options are as good as they can be.

Key questions:

- Are at the top level assumptions the right ones?

- Are there any options for tactics missing?

- Do the ones here look right?

- Are these options for tactics realistic?

- Are there any particular experts or organisations we should be talking to about any of these ideas

- Are there any dates, events or political developments coming up that we should be aware of?

Over the next few days the 38 Degrees office team will read the comments on this blog and continue speaking to experts who will also have key feedback and input. The voting will start as soon as this round of feedback has been incorporated.

Please post your comments below.

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NHS BILLBOARDS: From High Street to Backstreet

March 8th, 2012 by

Have you seen them yet? More than 133 huge billboards have gone up in London, all shown on the map below, and 82 more are being put up from today in high streets across the country. More than 21,000 38 Degrees members have chipped in over £300,000 to make this happen. It’s an amazing result.

Check out the latest photos of the ads on Flickr here – plus you can see a list of where the ads are in a spreadsheet by clicking here.

But it’s not over yet! From 19th March there will be more ads going up across the country – we’ll keep updating the 38 Degrees blog to say where these will be.

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Government publishes changes to the NHS Bill

February 2nd, 2012 by

Photograph by 38 Degrees

The NHS fight

A few hours ago the Government published their latest amendments to Andrew Lansley’s NHS Bill. These changes could be fantastic news – or just clever spin designed to pull wool over the eyes of those that want to protect our NHS.

Over the next few days our lawyers are going to look at the Government’s proposed changes line by line to find out what improvements, if any, have been made.

Once the facts are clear the 38 Degrees office team will create a list of things we could do together next. The list will be emailed as a poll for members to vote on or add new suggestions. It looks like we’ll be ready to launch that poll early next week.

Any thoughts on what we should do next? Please do share any ideas in the comment box below.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts, Stand up for the NHS

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Email Your MP to Save the NHS

April 1st, 2011 by

Update: Thousands of us have written to our MPs. You can share what your MP replied, and see what other 38 Degrees members have recieved back from their MPs here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-what-your-mp-said

Surgeons at work

We’ve just sent out an email about Andrew Lansley’s damaging plans for the NHS. David Cameron & Nick Clegg are having crunch meetings soon to discuss the future of our health service. We have to act now: if we all tell our MPs that we demand a rethink of the plans, it will send a powerful message to Lansley, Cameron and Clegg. Can you add your voice? Use this link to write to your MP: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-email-MP

When you get a reply from your MP, please upload it here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/nhs-what-your-mp-said. You can also view responses from other 38 Degrees members’ MPs.

Here’s the text of the email we just sent out:

Dear friend,

Is it starting to work? Yesterday’s Times newspaper reported that Cameron and Clegg are starting to worry about the huge public opposition to the NHS plans. It’s a clear sign that public pressure can save the NHS.

The Times said that David Cameron and Nick Clegg will sit down “in the next week or two” to “plan the way ahead”. [1] That means the future of the NHS is on a knife edge. They could decide to carry on forcing the changes through. Or they could decide to stop. We need to increase our pressure now, before these critical meetings.

If MPs receive a flood of emails ahead of the crunch meetings, it could tip the balance and persuade the government to back off. Can you email your MP now?

Take two minutes to tell your MP to take our message to Cameron and Clegg: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-email-MP

We need Clegg and Cameron to be hearing from hundreds of MPs all giving them the same message: “my voters don’t want these changes to the NHS”. They’ll be left in no doubt about how many of us don’t want the plans to go ahead.

250,000 of us have already signed the save the NHS petition. We know that we’re getting people’s attention. But now we need to make sure that every MP sees just how many of their own voters are against these dangerous plans for the NHS.

Tell your MP we don’t want the government to ruin the NHS: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-email-MP

So many different groups are worried about Andrew Lansley’s plans for the NHS. Doctors, nurses, patient groups, health charities, academics, unions, and even a growing number of Lib Dem and Conservative politicians. Now we need to tell every MP that it’s time for the government to start listening.

We know that shining a spotlight on MPs can transform things. When thousands of us emailed our MPs about the forests sell-off vote, their support for the plan started to melt away. Just last week, we heard that the government had changed its mind about protecting victims of human trafficking, after thousands of 38 Degrees members got their MPs to raise their concerns. Now, let’s do the same for the NHS by emailing our MPs ahead of this key meeting.

Turn up the heat on your MP, send them an email and ask them to take our message to Cameron and Clegg: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-email-MP

Thanks for being involved,
Johnny, Hannah, David and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Over the last couple of weeks, local 38 Degrees members delivered copies of our petition – nearly a quarter of a million strong – to key MPs on the health committee. But now we need to make sure every MP hears our message and passes it on to Cameron and Clegg. So please email yours now: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-email-MP

NOTES:
[1] You can read about the Times article here: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/03/lansley-reforms-nhs-cameron. The article itself is behind the Times paywall, here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/health/news/article2967342.ece

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Leeds trolleybus petition reaches ministers

October 15th, 2010 by

On Friday 15 October, Leeds 38 Degrees Volunteer Stephen, and Eleanor from the London office headed to the Department for Transport to hand in our petition to Philip Hammond and Danny Alexander, backing the Leeds Trolleybus.

Leeds 38 Degrees member Stephen with the petition outside DfT

Photograph by 38 Degrees

Almost 1,000 of us have now signed the petition – pushing the government to commit funding for the trolleybus. 100s of us have described how the trolleybus would reduce congestion, generate new jobs and boost the economy, improve local air quality – and just make getting around easier.

This has been combined with over 60 letters to Leeds MPs backing the trolleybus. We hope that these letters and the petition give both ministers some serious food for thought.

It looks like we should get a decision on whether or not the trolleybus will go ahead on the 20th, but the Spending Review may not go down to that level of detail….we may have to wait a little longer.

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Who’s really behind the NHS whitepaper?

October 13th, 2010 by

Health Minister Andrew Lansley: have private healthcare lobbyists been helping him write the NHS Whitepaper?

38 degrees teamed up with Spinwatch last year to demand tougher rules on lobbying – a hugely successful campaign which had a huge breakthrough back in May when government agreed to tougher rules to ban secret lobbying. They’re yet to implement these – it is likely we’ll need to put further pressure on next year.

Now Spinwatch have started looking into the links between the health minister, Andrew Lansley, and private health companies who would stand to gain from his proposals to change the NHS.

Maybe this research sheds a bit of light on where the government’s quite extreme new NHS plans have come from – plans which didn’t feature in anyone’s election manifesto.

38 Degrees members know a thing or two about challenging these kind of links between lobbying interests and government. With over 25,000 of us already involved in our campaign to protect the NHS we could play an important role in exposing any dodgy links between private health care lobbyists and the government’s NHS plans.

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